Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Normally I write out reasons why I’m including each book on this list, but I’ve reviewed these books and mentioned them on so many lists that I feel like it’s not really necessary at this point. But believe me, creating this list was HARD. At the end of every year I feel like I haven’t read enough books, nor enough books that really wowed me. Do any of you feel that way at this time of year? I guess I’m not reading to be wowed, but I certainly like discovering new favorites. The books on this list are here because they’ve stayed with me this year (characters, plot, writing style, twists, etc.). I’d love to know which books are you favorites this year!

My favorite books of 2013 in no particular order…

1. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review)

2. Winger by Andrew Smith (My review)

3. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review)

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby (My review)

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review)

6. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (My review)

7. I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (My review)

8. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (My review)

9. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine (My review)

10. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (My review)

My favorite backlist titles read in 2013 (I couldn’t help but cheat)…

1. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (My review)

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (My review)

3. Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

4. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My Favorite Audiobooks of 2013

I’m very much a visual learner, but when audiobooks are narrated well and are written well, I’m completely hooked. I love listening to them while I’m getting ready for work, cooking, cleaning, working out, and driving to/from work. Listening to an audiobook makes me feel like I’m being productive (taking time to read) while I’m busy doing things I *have* to do.

I’ve listened to 33 audiobooks this year and narrowed that list down to my top five favorites. Which audiobooks did you listen to and love this year? I’d love to get more recommendations!

1. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg, narrated by Suzy Jackson (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–First, Suzy Jackson sounds like a teenage girl. I don’t like it at all when an adult narrator won’t change his/her voice to sound like a teenage character. Second, she does a nice job switching back and forth between voices. She does a nice job bringing life to Patrick’s voice. I can’t imagine it’s easy to make herself sound like a guy, but she did a believable job.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–It’s a fantastic blend of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and the movie Ghost. I also love that this book surprised me multiple times. It went in directions I never expected and it worked. I’m also a fan of how the story is broken up by the stages of grief. Jess Rothenberg has written a strong debut; I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

2. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, narrated by David Levithan (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–David Levithan is so incredibly talented. His voice was perfect for this audiobook and I’m sure he read it just like it sounded in his head while he wrote this. I think my favorite part of his narration was the varying inflections of his voice. At the right time it was soothing and at the right time it was alarming. So. Good.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–I love how smart David Levithan is. The fact that he included a Greek-style Chorus in this book blew my mind. I’ll be honest, this story required a lot of attention as an audiobook, but it’s worth it. The Chorus added depth to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the different characters’ stories and discovering how they paralleled each other. I wanted more from a few of the characters, but I still appreciated their stories. Overall this is a stellar and important book.

3. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl & Angela Dawe (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–If Nick Podehl narrates an audiobook, I’m going to listen to it. Plain and simple. He’s my favorite male audiobook narrator and he only solidified that through his narration of this book. Angela Dawe was an enjoyable narrator for this book as well, but at times I wish her voice was a little louder. I love this series and will most likely finish the series by listening to the audio of Monsters of Men even though I miss seeing the “Noise” while I’m listening.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–Like I said, I love this series. It’s deep, intriguing, full of action, and completely absorbing. Patrick Ness is a master storyteller.

4. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, narrated by Ray Porter (Goodreads) (My review):

I’m not going to go into too much detail since I’ve already reviewed this. I will say that I was hesitant at first about Ray Porter’s narration, but I ended up loving it. He really brought this story to life and kept me hooked the entire time.

5. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, narrated by Natalie Moore (Goodreads) (My review):

Since I’ve already reviewed this I’m not going to provide too much detail. When I started listening to audiobooks, I started with the first book in this series, Dairy Queen. Natalie Moore IS D.J. Schwenk. It’s been months since I’ve listened to this final installment in this series and I can still here D.J.’s voice perfectly. I can’t recommend these audiobooks enough.

My Favorite Picture Books Read in 2013

I know my blog is primarily about young adult lit (and teaching), but as a teacher I read a number of picture books this year. I’ve discovered that I love picture books and that I can use them in my classroom. The best part of reading them this year was sharing them with my sophomores last school year so they could read them to a classroom of third grade students.

I am in no way a picture book guru; I’m very much a novice. I hope to read more picture books in 2014. I might even set a goal for myself 🙂 Anyway, I decided to narrow down the books I read to my top 5.

1. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Goodreads): I’m really surprised more of my friends on Goodreads haven’t read this picture book yet; it’s absolutely beautiful. The images Collier created to compliment the story are stunning. The text combined with those images pulled at my heart, but the note at the end of the book sent me over the edge. I cried.

2. The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Goodreads): This picture book has so many elements that I love. It rhymes, it has vibrant illustrations, and the story is sweet and full of heart. This showed up on my radar a few times so I was excited to see it when I was at Barnes & Noble not too long ago. I read it in the store and smiled the entire time. Not only do I want to share this with students, but I will absolutely need a copy for my future children. It’s adorable and makes for a great read aloud.

3. The Day of the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Goodreads): I love the concept for this picture book and can see it being used in a variety of ways as a mentor text. This would be a great book to read aloud to students and have them create their own letters written by crayons (or another object). The letters and illustrations really make this book stand out.

4. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Goodreads): What a fun way to teach punctuation to beginning writers! I love the humor, the power of the illustrations, and how they affect the meaning.

5. The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley, illustrated by Billy Aronson (Goodreads): Apparently I like humorous picture books because most of the books on this list are cute and funny. The Chicken Problem is yet another adorably humorous story. It even incorporates math! There are lots of great details in this picture book like math problems to make up the page numbers (page two says 1+1=2) and the fact that the background is graph paper. I read this to one of my classes last school year and they really enjoyed it.

Honorable Mentions: Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

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